AMCHA Initiative Bulletin – October 25, 2017

First Empirical Evidence to Explain How Faculty Promotion of Academic Boycott is Unlike Other Advocacy on Campus, Poses a Threat to Jewish Students

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New AMCHA Study Reveals
How Faculty Who Boycott Israel
Increase Likelihood of Antisemitism 

      

AMCHA Releases New Report

AMCHA Initiative published a new study yesterday that reveals how academic boycotts of Israel pose a serious threat to Jewish students and significantly increase the likelihood of antisemitism on campus.
 
Much has been written in recent years detailing how academic boycotts, and particularly an academic boycott of Israel, are an assault on academic free expression and intellectual inquiry critical to academia.  Even more alarming is AMCHA’s previous research that found a strong link between the presence of faculty members who have publicly expressed support for an academic boycott of Israel and the worst form of antisemitism — acts of anti-Jewish hostility such as assault, harassment, destruction of property and suppression of speech.  AMCHA’s research indicated that schools with one or more faculty boycotters were between four and seven times more likely to have acts of anti-Jewish hostility, and the more faculty boycotters on a campus, the greater the likelihood of such antisemitic acts. The association was replicated in three separate AMCHA studies conducted over two different calendar years.
  
The study released by AMCHA yesterday investigates why this is happening.  It examined the three disciplines that were responsible for sponsoring close to 90% of anti-Israel events – Ethnic, Gender and Middle East Studies. The study found that the greater the number of faculty boycotters in a department, the greater the number of outside BDS proponents brought to campus by that department and the greater the instances of students’ anti-Zionist expression and incidents of anti-Jewish hostility. 
 
This new research strongly suggests that that at least some faculty who have signed petitions or statements in support of an academic boycott of Israel bring their anti-Israel sentiments and support for BDS to campus through their department’s sponsorship of pro-BDS events and those events increase the likelihood of anti-Jewish hostility on campus.
 
Main Findings:
 

  • The greater the number of faculty boycotters in a department, the greater the number of outside BDS proponents brought to campus by that department
    • Within the three disciplines examined, academic units with faculty boycotters were between five and twelve times more likely to sponsor events with BDS-supporting speakers.
  • The more BDS speakers, the more anti-Zionist expression among students, and the more anti-Jewish hostility on campus
    • Schools that hosted BDS-supporting speaker-events sponsored by the three disciplines were twice as likely to have incidents of anti-Jewish hostility.
    • Schools with BDS-speaker events were twice as likely to have occurrences of student-produced anti-Zionist expression.
    • Schools with instances of student-produced anti-Zionist expression were 7 times more likely to have incidents of anti-Jewish hostility.

The very strong association of students’ anti-Zionist expression and acts of anti-Jewish hostility indicates a possible and dangerous chain reaction: BDS-supporting speaker-events incite anti-Zionist expression among students, which in turn increases the likelihood of anti-Jewish incidents.
 
The study’s findings demonstrate that promoting an academic boycott of Israel is unlike any other social justice cause that a faculty member may choose to pursue.  By its very nature, an academic boycott, if carried out, harms not only its intended target – in this case the academic institutions and scholars of Israel – it also directly and substantially harms students and faculty on U.S. campuses, violating their academic freedom.  However, AMCHA’s study indicates that even advocating for a boycott of Israel as part of a department’s sponsorship of BDS-supporting speaker-events is significantly associated with acts that target Jewish students for harm, including assault, harassment, destruction of property, and suppression of speech.
 
AMCHA is not suggesting that anti-Israel events or BDS speakers should be prohibited.  Academic freedom makes them permissible.  Furthermore, we believe discourse, debate and dissent on the Middle East, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and other issues certainly belong on the college campus. However, we are gravely concerned about the increasing tendency for some academic disciplines or sub-disciplines — and consequently some entire college and university departments or programs — to become politically corrupted, controlled by, and dedicated to anti-Zionist and anti-Israel beliefs. That trend has a corrosive impact on students and faculty and on the character of the education a campus can provide.
 
We hope our findings will raise awareness about the harms that may result from the on-campus promotion or possible implementation of an academic boycott by individual faculty members and departments, and that it will, in the very least, spark a conversation about those harms and how to address them.

The report has been picked up by The Jerusalem PostThe Washington Free Beacon, AlgemeinerLegal Insurrection, Jewish PressBaltimore Jewish Life, Arutz Sheva and San Diego Jewish World, among others.

 


Sampling of Recent Antisemitic Activity
on U.S. Campuses

October 2017

 
For all activity, please see AMCHA’s Antisemitism Tracker

At Cornell University. Source Credit: Ithaca Voice

 

October 23, 2017 – CORNELL UNIVERSITY
Antisemitic posters were found on several campus buildings and on Stewart Avenue. The posters contained a swastika next to the text of “Solar Cross Society, Join the White Gang,” along with a snake appearing to choke the globe and a Jewish star over the image, with the text, “Just say no to Jewish lies!”
(TARGETING JEWISH STUDENTS AND STAFF: GENOCIDAL EXPRESSION; HISTORICAL)

At Florida State University. Source Credit: Times of Israel

October 19, 2017 – FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY
A swastika was on a t-shirt worn at a Richard Spencer event on campus. According to the Gainesville Sun, “[o]ne white nationalist…taunt[ed] the marchers, chanting ‘blood and soil’ — a Nazi slogan.”
(TARGETING JEWISH STUDENTS AND STAFF: GENOCIDAL EXPRESSION; HISTORICAL)

 

At UC Berkeley. Source Credit: Facebook

October 13, 2017 – UC BERKELEY
A demonizing cartoon was published in the Daily Cal that depicted Alan Dershowitz’s head inside a cut-out of his book, “The Liberal Case for Israel” with him smiling, a rainbow beside him, and children watching him. The cartoon depicted his body behind the cut-out stepping on a person who had been carrying a Palestinian flag, flattening the person, and his hand was holding up an IDF soldier with a large gun standing over a dead person with blood around the body and blood dripping off his hand. The cartoon was created by a member of the Daily Cal’s editorial staff.
(ANTISEMITIC EXPRESSION: DEMONIZATION)

 

At Colorado State University. Source Credit: The Rocky Mountain Collegian

October 12, 2017 – COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY – 
An image was posted to the Durward Snapchat showing a student in Durward Hall with a swastika painted on her arm giving what appears to be a Nazi salute. 
(TARGETING JEWISH STUDENTS AND STAFF: GENOCIDAL EXPRESSION; HISTORICAL)

 

At UC Berkeley. Source Credit: The Daily Cal

October 11, 2017 – UC BERKELEY
A flier on the law school bulletin board advertising an event with Alan Dershowitz was found vandalized with a swastika drawn over Dershowitz’s face.
(TARGETING JEWISH STUDENTS AND STAFF: GENOCIDAL EXPRESSION; HISTORICAL)

October 9, 2017 – RUTGERS UNIVERSITY NEW BRUNSWICK – 
SJP held the BDS event, “BDS: SHOW me how to RISE” with Lamis Deek and Taher Herzallah as a “highlight event of the semester, celebrating BDS.” According to the Daily Targum, “Deek said that the importance of BDS is that it rejects the legitimacy of Israel, thus preventing the normalization of Israel in the world order…We are winning in the sense that to this day it is Israel that continues to ask for legitimacy.”
(ANTISEMITIC EXPRESSION: DELEGITIMIZATION; BDS ACTIVITY (BDS EVENT))

October 5, 2017 – TEXAS STATE UNIVERSITY – 
An article in the university paper entitled “The Israeli occupation of Palestine is terrorism” demonized and delegitimized Israel, stating that “strategic ethnic-cleansing made way for the Jewish state” and “currently, Israel maintains a regime of apartheid against Palestinian people.” The article further called for BDS, stating, “In just the past 10 years, students have successfully called for their universities to divest …Sooner than later, students at Texas State should take it upon themselves to evaluate whether they want their tuition dollars to contribute to the oppressive Israeli state.” 
(ANTISEMITIC EXPRESSION: DEMONIZATION; DELEGITIMIZATION; BDS ACTIVITY (CALLS FOR BDS))

October 5, 2017 – CORNELL UNIVERSITY – 
Professor Russel Rickford was quoted in the school newspaper demonizing Israel, saying, “The colonial occupation of Palestine remains one of the world’s most visible campaigns of white supremacist violence.” He further delegitimized Israel, stating that claims of antisemitism in relation to one of his past statements is “an attempt to silence the millions of Jews around the world who condemn Israel’s apartheid policies.” 
(ANTISEMITIC EXPRESSION: DEMONIZATION; DELEGITIMIZATION)
 

At University of Maryland Baltimore County. Source Credit: Baltimore Sun

 
October 4, 2017 – UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND BALTIMORE COUNTY – 
swastika was etched into a table on campus. Date of incident is approximated from article.
(TARGETING JEWISH STUDENTS AND STAFF: GENOCIDAL EXPRESSION; HISTORICAL)

October 4, 2017 – MACALESTER COLLEGE – 
Two new swastika markings were found on the second and fourth floors of Neill Hall. Date of incident is reported date. 
(TARGETING JEWISH STUDENTS AND STAFF: GENOCIDAL EXPRESSION; HISTORICAL)

October 1, 2017 – COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY – 
Two separate antisemitic incidents occurred in on-campus residence halls. The first involved a wireless network being renamed “F**k Jews” in Durward, and the second occurred in Laurel Village when a Jewish student’s whiteboard was vandalized with the term “Hail Hitler” (sic) next to a Star of David decoration. The date of these incidents is approximated from the article. 
(TARGETING JEWISH STUDENTS AND STAFF: GENOCIDAL EXPRESSION; HARASSMENT; HISTORICAL)
 

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